Sanguinetti seeks a 'Perfect' comeback in Sunday's $50,000 Budweiser Handicap | Emerald Downs

Why Not Be Perfect and jockey Anne Sanguinetti are back in action Sunday when Emerald Downs presents the 19th running of the $50,000 Budweiser Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at one mile. - Courtesy photo/Erin Palmer, Emerald Downs
Why Not Be Perfect and jockey Anne Sanguinetti are back in action Sunday when Emerald Downs presents the 19th running of the $50,000 Budweiser Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at one mile.
— image credit: Courtesy photo/Erin Palmer, Emerald Downs

For the Reporter

Jockey Anne Sanguinetti could hardly wait to hear the good news Tuesday, when the doctors cleared her to return riding this weekend at Emerald Downs.

Sidelined three weeks with a sprained ankle, Sanguinetti returns Sunday to ride Governor's Handicap winner Why Not Be Perfect in the $50,000 Budweiser Handicap at one mile.

"Believe me, riding Why Not Be Perfect in the stakes was why I was so diligent on getting my ankle better," Sanguinetti said Thursday. "Jeff Metz asked me the other day who I'd pick if someone needed to take my place, and I told him nobody. I'm coming back."

Injured in a May 24 riding mishap, Sanguinetti has worked arduously for her return, icing her ankle up to six times a day and working out daily while the lower leg healed.

Fit and ready, Sanguinetti returns Saturday to work horses in the morning before her scheduled three mounts Sunday, including the big one on Why Not Be Perfect. In fact, a win would make the 7-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding a top contender for the $200,000 Longacres Mile (Grade 3) on Aug. 24.

In the Governor's, Why Not Be Perfect ran 6½ furlongs in a stakes-record and meet-fastest 1:13.72. The $59.80 win payoff was also a stakes-high at Emerald Downs, and Sanguinetti said she couldn't believe her mount was all but ignored at the windows.

"I think the only people that knew this horse could win were me and Jeff's team back at the barn," she said. "I couldn't have been more confident in a horse's chances."

Don't expect the betting public to be fooled again, as Why Not Be Perfect's odds will plummet to single digits and possibly even favoritism. One possible downside, however, could be the post-position, considering Why Not Be Perfect drew the rail for only the fourth time in his 50-race career, and has yet to win from the No.1 post.

"I don't like it much, but you make do with what you got," Sanguinetti said. "He's a big, strong horse and he's not afraid of anything, so he'll be OK."

Entering this week with 458 career wins, Sanguinetti has enjoyed several riding moments during her career, but none could be more satisfying than riding for her parents John and Christine Sanguinetti, who make up Why Not Be Perfect's ownership team*J.C. Racing Stable. According to Sanguinetti, who has ridden Why Not Be Perfect to four stakes wins in their 11 starts together, there is no added pressure despite the family connection.

"It's a lot easier riding for my parents than other owners," Sanguinetti said. "It's not like if I lose the race that they won't invite me home for dinner."

Stryker Phd begins comeback

Stryker Phd had a phenomenal season and earned numerous accolades last year at Emerald Downs – finishing runner-up in the Longacres Mile and three other stakes, winning the Muckleshoot Tribal Classic, and being named the Top Handicap Horse by the WTBOA and Top Washington-bred by Emerald Downs.

But as they say, that's all turf history. Sunday, the Bertrando gelding launches his 5-year-old campaign in a new barn with a new jockey aboard. Larry and Sharon Ross have taken over training duties from Margo Lloyd while Leslie Mawing takes over from Debbie Hoonan in the saddle.

"He's worked really well through this whole deal," Sharon Ross said Thursday. "We knew we weren't going to make the first stake, so we were training him towards making his first start at one mile, which for a guy like Stryker is not a big deal because he likes the longer distances anyway.

"He appears to have come out of his last work super. He's doing well, and I'm looking forward to running him. He was a young horse just figuring it out last year, but he showed a lot of talent. This year he's acting like a 5-year-old. He's got a lot of experience under his belt and he looks like an older horse."

Owned by Jim and Mona Hour, Stryker Phd has a record of 2-4-4 in 13 starts with earnings of $127,751.

• The Budweiser Handicap, race nine on a 10-race program, goes at 6:09 p.m.

• Sunday also is the traditional Father's Day Hat Giveaway with the first 7,000 paid admissions receiving free blue and green Emerald Downs' ball caps.

• The field for Sunday's $50,000 Budweiser Handicap (from the rail out, with handicap weights): Why Not Be Perfect, Anne Sanguinetti, 119 pounds; Dontmesswithkitten, Rocco Bowen, 115; Jebrica, Juan Gutierrez, 118; Mike Man's Gold, Javier Matias, 115; Hudson Landing, Gallyn Mitchell, 120; Mr. Bowling, David G. Lopez, 118; Twistgrips, Felipe Valdez, 116; Shooting Jacket, Eliska Kubinova, 116; Stryker Phd, Leslie Mawing, 118; Pepnic, Isaias Enriquez, 117.

Dancing Yodeler runs Sunday

The Emerald Racing Club is back in action Sunday, as Dancing Yodeler makes his second start for his 128-member ownership group in the second race for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs.

In his first race for the Emerald Racing Club on June 1, Dancing Yodeler finished a game third under jockey Felipe Valdez for trainers Larry and Sharon Ross. The 6-year-old Swiss Yodeler gelding has a 10-13-7 record in 53 starts and lifetime earnings of $103,896.

"He came out of the race very, very well," Sharon Ross said. "He gets a little bored when he's not running, so he's going to like this two-week run back.

"I just have to jog him a few times in between races and he'll be ready to go. He should run really well unless it rains. He's a California boy and they don't like that wet stuff."

Country Rules heads Saturday feature

One of the track's hottest trainer/owner combinations swoops in for another score Saturday when Country Rules heads a field of eight allowance/optional claimers in the $21,000 feature race at 6 ½ furlongs.

Trainer Dan Markle and owners Sue and Tim Spooner are a combined 7-1-1 in 14 starts at the meet including a 1¼-length victory by Country Rules in a May 3 allowance at 5½ furlongs. In that race, Country Rules led gate-to-wire in a fast 1:02.72 for 5½ furlongs. A 4-year-old homebred by Tribal Rule-Country Whirl, Country Rules is 3-for-8 lifetime with earnings of $41,195.

"(Country Rules) hasn't run in about six weeks now," Markle said. "He's a pretty nice horse, but he's going to run with some bona fide racehorses Saturday."

Country Rules drew the outside post in a eight-horse field and faces a field loaded with speed, particularly I Keep Saying, a 5-year-old gelding that is 3-for-5 at 6½ furlongs, and My Chief, an undefeated 3-year-old gelding who faces older horses for the first time.

"That's a good cozy spot for him," Markle said of Country Rules' No. 8 post "There's three real good speedsters in there that don't use their breaks."

• Winning Machine makes his first start for trainer Howard Belvoir, who takes over training duties of the 8-year-old gelding from Frank Lucarelli. Winning Machine is nominated to Sunday's Budweiser Handicap, but will run in the allowance race and thus miss his first stakes event at Emerald Downs since the 2010 Mt. Rainier Handicap. Co-owner Dr. Raymond Kwik said Saturday's race is a gauge for future events.

• The field for Saturday's $21,000 feature race (from the rail out): Dogleft Left, Leslie Mawing, 115 pounds; Somewhere With You, Javier Matias, 115; I Keep Saying, Juan Gutierrez, 119; Disruption, Eliska Kubinova, 124; Rocky's Quest, Rocco Bowen, 119; Winning Machine, David G. Lopez, 124; My Chief, Louis Zacherle, 118; Country Rules, Jose Zunino, 119.

• Note: Dogleg Left, Somewhere With You and Rocky's Quest are reentered Sunday in an $18,900 allowance/optional claimer at one mile.


Weekly honors: Jockey-Javier Matias (8-2-1-3); Trainer-Dan Markle (2-2-0-0); Owner-Zola, James or Karen Proffitt (1-1-0-0); Groom-Julio Landeros (trainer Jim Penney); Washington-bred-Private Boss (breeder Ron & Nina Hagen). ... Leslie Mawing leads Rocco Bowen 34-31 in the jockeys' standings, but Bowen leads with two stakes victories*both aboard Stopshoppingdebbie. ... Stopshoppingdebbie earned an 82 Beyer for Sunday's victory in the Washington State Legislators Stakes, one point less than her victory in the May 11 Hastings Handicap. Her winning time of 1:14.20 for 6½ furlongs was fastest ever for a filly or mare at EmD, but only second fastest of the meet at 6 ½; Why Not Be Perfect won the May 18 Governor's Handicap in 1:13.72. ... Goin to the Window received a career-high 81 for her runner-up finish to stable mate Stopshoppingdebbie in the Washington State Legislators, and third-place Blueberry Smoothie was given a 76. ... Stopshoppingdebbie, Goin to the Window and Blueberry Smoothie have swept the top three spots in five stakes at Emerald Downs, and Markle said trainer Tom Wenzel deserves credit. "He's done a super job with Stopshoppingdebbie," Markle said of Wenzel. "Those three fillies, it's like a pack of wolves when he leads them over there." ... He's a Cruiser earned a career-high 73 Beyer for his meet-leading fourth victory last Saturday. The 5-year-old Raise the Bluff gelding has won for claiming prices of, in order, $5,000, $7,500, $10,000 and $15,000. ... Find Your Spot, a 3-year-old Nationhood filly last seen scoring a $52.20 upset at Santa Anita on Feb. 28, returns to action in Saturday's fourth race, an $18,900 allowance/optional claimer for 3-year-old fillies at 6½ furlongs. ... Saturday's third race, a $17,850 maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies features several promising newcomers including Luck Out, half-sister to $328,000 earner Point of Reference, and Andiamo Deb, half-sister to Mike Man's Gold and No Flies On Doodle, winners of a combined seven stakes at Emerald Downs. ... Grants Pass begins its nine-day meet Saturday with a 10-race card at 1 p.m. ... Boyett, a 4-year-old gelding owned and bred by Dr. Rodney Orr, prevailed in a $60,000 allowance race on turf Thursday at Santa Anita. Boyett broke his maiden at Emerald Downs last year. ... Grants Pass begins its annual nine-day meet of Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horse racing Saturday at 1 p.m.

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